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ICE research informs cross-party debate in UK House of Lords

29 April 2024
ICE research informs cross-party debate in UK House of Lords
The UK’s fragmented system of transport responsibilities makes it difficult for investment to deliver long-term benefits. Image credit: Shutterstock

Four members of the UK’s House of Lords referenced ICE policy and external affairs work during a recent debate on transport planning.

Discussing “the case for a coherent plan to address the failings of the transport system”, peers from across the political spectrum echoed the ICE’s calls for a national transport strategy.

The voice of engineering and infrastructure in government

Introducing the debate, Labour’s Lord Snape referred to the ICE’s July 2023 policy paper recommending the creation of national transport strategy for England.

Making the case for long-term planning of infrastructure projects, he said:

"I leave the last word to the Institution of Civil Engineers, which makes exactly that same point: that short-termism has bedevilled British infrastructure projects for years.

"...when things go wrong, the Treasury all too soon says, 'We can save billions of pounds by cancelling a specific project'."

Conservative peer Lord Bourne agreed.

Thanking the ICE for its briefing, he added, "uncertainty is a problem. The delays and the cancellation of a large part of HS2 are a graphic example of that."

‘Infrastructure is where it starts’

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Goddard cited the ICE’s report, arguing that transport "enables productivity and economic growth as well as quality of life and social wellbeing".

"We need a real integrated plan," said Lord Whitty, another Labour peer. "Others have referred to the proposals by the Institution of Civil Engineers for the integration of transport infrastructure; obviously it needs to be broader than infrastructure, but infrastructure is where it starts."

How does the ICE inform infrastructure policy?

The ICE’s policy and external affairs team works with members and senior industry stakeholders to refine policy positions on several key infrastructure issues: transport, strategic planning, decarbonisation, climate resilience, and more.

The team monitors parliamentary debates and briefs politicians from all parties on these issues.

Ahead of this debate, the ICE sent briefings to all the speakers, as well as the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI), for whom the ICE is official secretariat.

The team also briefed parliamentarians on polling conducted for the ICE in 2022, which showed that 68% of the public felt politicians should talk more about the benefits of major infrastructure projects than the costs.

Why is this important?

The ICE is a charitable organisation with a duty to act for the public good.

As part of this duty, through its policy work, the ICE informs the political decisions that shape how infrastructure helps people, the planet, and the economy thrive.

This includes providing independent policy insight and advice to policymakers from across the political spectrum.

Political consensus is crucial for effective change. On the issue of transport planning, members from England’s three largest political parties support the ICE’s position.

This debate is now on the record and will inform the government’s future transport policy commitments.

As the UK general election approaches, the ICE will continue working with all parties to ensure decision-makers understand the value of infrastructure and the professionals who design, build, and maintain it.

  • Duncan Kenyon, public affairs manager at ICE